Sunday, September 28, 2008

Bike Clothes for Commuters Start to Appear - Cordarounds!

One of my frequent observations about cycling and commuting is that most of the clothing you see is made for recreational cyclists. I wear a couple of items myself that, although I prefer not to be on the road without them, are pretty clearly made for roadies.

The primary one is my Pearl Izumi Vagabond Ii Jacket. Although I love it, and it's kept me safe and dry since I've had it, I don't like how it binds around the shoulders and arms when I'm wearing it to work. I don't wear a bike jersey to work, I generally wear a plain t-shirt in the summer and my work shirt during the spring or fall when it's cooler and I don't perspire as much. And in the winter I'm wearing an UnderArmor ColdGear shirt and a fleece underneath it, so that's a bit bulky, too. I'd like to have a jacket that's a little looser, but still has that high-visibility fabric. So far I haven't found one.

Well, the folks at Cordarounds have come to our rescue by introducing their Bike To Work pants. These are khakis that look perfectly normal for your everyday work. But, when you're ready to ride, you roll up the cuffs (which most of us do anyway to avoid chain grease spatter) and they have reflective tape built into the inner lining of the pants! And the pockets pull out to sport the same reflectivity! And the cuffs themselves are made of protective Iluminite teflon for extra strength.

This is exactly the sort of thing that I hope we can plan to see more of in the future as bike commuters become a bigger market force. Thanks to the folks at Cordarounds for their work in making us some pants that serve two purposes!

Here's a video of the Bike to Work Pants in action:

Bike 2 Work Pants from Cordarounds on Vimeo

So... what kinds of commuter clothes would YOU like to see?

People, not speed.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Ohio Ranks Low on Bicycle-Friendly States List

The League of American Bicyclists started a couple of new initiatives recently, Bicycle Friendly Businesses and Bicycle Friendly States. The idea is, like their now-famous Bicycle Friendly Communities program, to encourage states to modernize their support for cycling as an equal road-space user and to give communities a guideline to help them improve by supporting cycling.

They've started with some initial rankings, and Ohio got 32nd - firmly in the lower half of the rankings. The reasons they gave (from their website) are as follows:

State Rank: 32 out of 50.

Reasons for Ranking: Ohio has a routine accommodation policy adopted in 2005, but no bike master plan and bicycling enforcement is not a police academy or POST training requirement.

This goes along nicely with the observation I've had since starting this blog: that if the police would effectively enforce the law, things would be much better for all road users. Academy or post training requirements would certainly help in this case.

Just as a comparison, here's how Ohio ranks against the states around us:

Michigan: 12
Indiana: 24
Kentucky: 29
Ohio: 32
Pennsylvania: 38
West Virginia: 50 (wow.. dead last!)

Washington was the highest ranked state nationally.

I love having this ranking. One of the things I've heard from various city and community leaders around the biking world is that for some of them, trying to surpass their "rival cities" on the bike-friendliness front is a great goal, and this provides an outside agency to measure their progress. And the rivalries between states can be even greater.

Picture rivalries such as Michigan/Ohio, or Texas/Oklahoma, etc. Then picture them trying to outdo each other by making their states more friendly to bicycles. When such a rivalry causes states to try to positively change for the better, everyone wins.

People, not speed.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

League of American Bicyclists Shows Who's Trashing Bikes

It's a popular conservative trend to bash the growth of bicycling in this country and most especially to bash the communities that are trying to help foster that growth. And the League of American Bicyclists is outing the trash-talkers on their Who's Trash Talking Bikes? page! The outed include Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, the infamous Representative Patrick McHenry of North Carolina, and Secretary of Transportation Mary Peters.

Check it out... and if you're looking for a candidate, try to avoid these folks.

Thanks to Bike Portland for their coverage of this resource!

People, not speed.

Tokyo Shows How To Handle Bike Parking

This is a fantastic system in Tokyo, where bike parking is a big issue due to the number of people who ride bikes to the subway system. Check it out!

People, not speed.

WAD Offering Third Thursday Commuter Rides

Do you live between Westerville and the Arena District? Would you like to bike commute, but you don't know the best way to go or would like to not be riding alone?

The Westerville-to-Arena-District Bikeway supporters are here to fulfill your need with their Third Thursday Commuting Rides! These rides will be held every third Thursday of each month, hence the name. The idea is to get more people commuting and seeing just what great fun and exercise a commuting ride can be!

The first ride is this month, on September 18th. Tentatively, the plan is to start at the Shopping center at the Southwest Corner of State and Schrock Road in Westerville at 6:00 am. There's even information on where you can catch a shower on the way! . Here's the map of the route, plus timepoints at which you will be able to join the ride along the way!

Thanks to Brett Allen and Ray George for setting this up!

People, not speed.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Dispatch Columnist Misses the Mark in Call for Bicyclist Responsibility

From the very first line of her most recent column about the death of Tracy Corbin on Alum Creek Drive today, Ann Fisher misses the point about safety on roads. Read this first line:
It's hard to blame the drivers along Alum Creek Drive south of Watkins Road, where bicyclist Tracey Corbin was killed three weeks ago on his way to work.
I'm sorry... but what? How is it hard to blame drivers who don't watch the road? If you don't see cyclists when you're driving, you're driving unsafely. That means you're driving distracted, too fast, or both. Either way you're breaking the law and you're a menace.

Should riders be doing everything they can to be seen? Absolutely. That's why I wear either a fluorescent orange vest or yellow jacket when I ride.

But to say that you can't blame the drivers when a person has been killed? That's one of the most preposterous things I've ever heard.

Here's the entire column today.

Bicyclists should do their part for safety
Wednesday, September 10, 2008 3:17 AM

It's hard to blame the drivers along Alum Creek Drive south of Watkins Road, where bicyclist Tracey Corbin was killed three weeks ago on his way to work.

Everything about that route -- frequent big-truck and semi traffic, two narrow lanes, an uneven gravel berm, 40-mph speed limit and no sidewalks -- conspires against them and the bicyclists with whom they share the road.

Yet it must be shared because that's just about where the bus route ends.

And even if there were a bus, Wayne French couldn't afford the fare on his $7.50-an-hour income. At 5:45 a.m. yesterday, he was pedaling furiously along the white line that separates the road from the gravel to meet his landlord and pay his rent before going to work.

Dressed all in black and without a helmet, his sole source of safety is his head, which he turns to look behind him when traffic approaches from the front. If it's coming from behind, too, the 45-year-old French knows he must steer onto the gravel to avoid a collision, one that almost surely would kill him.

He is riding through a death trap. And he's not the only one.

These days, Brent Nimmo is lit up like the Short North arches (on a good night), with a headlamp over his helmet and reflective tape on his hunter-orange vest.

Since Corbin's death, the 50-year-old Nimmo has installed two blinking red lights and a yield-shaped sign on his bike. Reflective letters that spell out Don't Kill Me are affixed to the sign, which faces the traffic behind Nimmo.

He centered a 3-foot dowel along the top edge of the sign to give passing truckers and other drivers a notion of how much room he needs in the darkness of his own morning commute.

Since the spring, high gasoline prices have forced Nimmo to commute about two weeks each month to his maintenance job at the Statehouse. Without a bike lane or sidewalk, every trip is a calculated risk, he said.

"The day (Corbin) was killed, my son called to see if it was me. My neighbor drove down (to the crash site) to see if it was me."

His get-up might appear to be overkill, he said. "But maybe Tracey saved my life. Maybe a bike lane would save a whole lot of other people's lives."

Last week, I asked drivers to be more aware. Yesterday, as I traveled Alum Creek by car to observe Nimmo, my right front fender almost clipped French. I barely saw him.

French knows he needs better gear to be safe, but he can't afford it. He said others like him also commute along Alum Creek.

Nimmo suggested a helmet program for low-income bicyclists who need their wheels to commute. He also supports a provision in House Bill 390 that, among other things, would require a 3-foot minimum distance when passing a bicycle.

"The strippers got 6 feet," Nimmo said, referring to the legislation that, until it was amended in the Ohio House, required strippers to stay 6 feet from strip-club patrons. "We're only asking for half of what the strippers got."

That would help, but only if the driver can see the bicyclist and has time to react.

Ann Fisher is a Dispatch Metro columnist. She can be reached at 614-461-8759 or by e-mail.

People, not speed.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Westerville to Arena District Bikeway Initiative Gains Support from City and Neighborhoods

With all the news we've heard recently about individuals and neighborhoods fighting the installation of bike paths through their backyards (literally and figuratively), it's comforting to read this report from the Westerville-to-Arena-District Bikeway Initiative. The Greater Linden Advisory Council, the Northeast Area Commission, the Northland Community Council, the North Linden Area Commission, and the South Linden Commission have all thrown their support behind the creation of a bike path between Westerville and the Arena District, which would create yet another important bike route between the suburbs and downtown.

In addition, the City Parks and Rec department has indicated its desire to proceed with the project and sounds very desirous to support it.

This is great news for the Northeast side. Not only will this create a corridor for people to get around between Westerville and downtown, but it stands to improve the Linden neighborhood. It's been indicated time and time again that the more people who are out of their cars while passing through neighborhoods, the more those neighborhoods benefit from the increased foot and bicycle traffic as people support the businesses they pass, and also increase their awareness of the issues that surround those neighborhoods.

Linden is a nice neighborhood, but one that has fallen on some tough times. And the ability of cars to pass by it on I-71 without witnessing the problems Linden has had is only making things worse. Now, caring people will see this neighborhood first hand, get to know people who live and work there, and will take more interest in the area. It's a win-win situation for all involved!

Nice work, WAD - you're improving Columbus in more ways than you know.

People, not speed.